Customers frank about Sinatra's
For Vinnie Lepera and Shannon Heneghan, it’s a weekly ritual. For the Bingeman family, it’s a first-time experience. But whatever the background, both parties left Sinatra’s with a smile.
“We love coming here,” says Lepera, who lives in Buffalo. “It’s become a regular thing for us. I eat here more than my own kitchen.”
Sinatra’s has been inconspicuously occupying 938 Kenmore Ave. since 1981. Manager Mike Sinatra, who has been working in the restaurant since he was 14, said his father John had a clear vision of what he wanted his business to be.
“It is a welcoming place that serves delicious Italian food,” Sinatra says simply. “We keep things very traditional.”
That may explain why walking into Sinatra’s today is like teleporting back to old-world Italy. The décor is elegant and warm, and the bartenders are classic barmen, serving up muddled Manhattans and waxing poetic about different kinds of wine.
“We always start the night here with Lenny, our favorite bartender,” says Heneghan with a smile. “He’s become a good friend and really sets the mood for the restaurant.”
The mood is something that the newcomer Bingeman family picked up on right away.
“It’s friendly,” observes Marsha, who lives in Clarence. “It still looks like a fancy restaurant, but it doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable.”
“It’s definitely not stuffy-elegant, just nice-elegant,” her husband, Jim, adds. “And it really smells great.”
The aromas wafting from the kitchen all make your stomach growl from the traditional pastas and veals to the more unique braciole and osso buco. It’s a slightly more expensive menu than a chain Italian restaurant, but you get your money’s worth with portion sizes. Each dish is easily large enough to share or be taken home as leftovers.
“It’s a hearty menu,” Sinatra says, “real comfort eating. It’s the kind of family Italian that a lot of our customers grew up with.”
So with so many Italian restaurants in Western New York, what sets Sinatra’s apart? What keeps the tables so full while other businesses struggle?
Sinatra points to consistency.
“We don’t change much here, because we don’t need to,” he says. “People want the same thing the same way and want to get to know us. They don’t want us to be cutting-edge and always changing things.”
It looks like consistency is the key, because no matter the time or day, Sinatra’s is always busy. It’s a good place for everything from dinner celebration to business meeting, although it can get loud, since the tables are close together. It doesn’t feel overwhelmingly crowded, but it is more suitable for festive occasions rather than professional meetings.
But if you ask Lepera and Heneghan, Sinatra’s is perfect for just about anything.
“We wouldn’t come here several times a week – which we literally do – if it wasn’t a really great place,” Lepera points out. “Even when they’re really busy, you still get your food promptly and feel like you are being well taken care of. It’s not a rush-rush-rush feeling.”
“The service is definitely one of the best parts of it,” agrees Heneghan. “We’ve gotten to know the staff, but even on our first visit here, we felt right at home.”
Sinatra’s, 938 Kenmore Ave., Buffalo. 716-877-9419.